I just reread this and had to change my assessment. Each of the stories, set in the fantasy country of Orsinia, which is planted firmly in the history of our real world, was exceptional, brilliant, tender, personal, and delightful. My main complaint is that I wanted to know more about all the people and their stories. I wanted whole novels about every single one of the stories. Nevertheless, despite their too-short nature, each was long enough to give me enough information that I came to care about the characters and feel empathy for them. UKL is a marvelous writer. I'm so glad I reread this collection.